I waited tables for five years—not while I was young and vigorous, either. Nope, I deferred this seminal, "coming of age" ritual until I was in my early, exhausted 30s, trapped in a career that felt like a soul-eating virus. I was desperate for a way out…or through…or something, which unfortunately for me, meant a total professional demolition followed by a complete rebuild. Four restaurants and 60 grueling months later, I launched into my newly redesigned career, forever grateful for the lessons in psychology and basic math my time in the "restaurant biz" had taught me. My experience waiting tables also heightened my awareness of many other service-oriented professions in which employees literally depend on tips to make ends meet. If you—like me—have ever caught yourself wondering if you’ve left the appropriate tip, you’ll want to keep this guide handy.

Who to tip and how much

This guide offers a go-by of traditionally accepted tipping standards, but you should feel free to vary your tipping if exceptional service is provided!

  • Luggage porters (airport, train): $1-$2 per bag. If the bags are quite heavy, numerous or the porter carries them for you, then $2 per bag is the minimum tip.
  • Hotel staff (bellhops, doormen): $1 per bag.
  • Hotel concierge: $5-$10 per service (more for exceptional service, such as obtaining hard-to-get tickets or restaurant reservations). No tip is required if you simply ask for directions or hotel information.
  • Hotel maid: $2-$5 per night.
  • Drivers (taxi, shuttles, car service): 15% of the total fare.
  • Food (in-restaurant, take-out, delivery): 15%-20% of the total bill with a $2 minimum (depending on the complexity of the order).
  • Parking (valets): $1-$3 unless there’s a set price per vehicle stated.
  • Coatroom staff: $1 per coat.
  • Washroom attendant: $.50-$1 per visit.
  • Salon staff (hair, nails, wax, massage, tattoo artists): 10%-20% of the service fee. The more complex the service, the closer you should get to the 20% mark.
  • Salon support staff (hair washer, shaver): $1-$2.
  • Car detailing: $1-$3 per vehicle (more for challenging or especially dirty vehicles).
  • Pet groomers (dogs, cats): 15% of the total fee.
  • Movers: no tip required; can tip for exceptional service if you wish.
  • Towers and emergency vehicle responders: no tip required per AAA.
  • Delivery personnel (furniture, appliances, flowers, gifts): no tip required; can tip for exceptional service or special occasions (for instance, some people like to tip delivery personnel who bring them flowers).
  • Coffee bar baristas and bartenders: $1-$2 per drink.
  • Shoeshine attendants: $1-$2 per pair of shoes.
  • In-home maid service: no tip required; holiday tipping is always appreciated.

How to calculate percentage-based tips

It’s easy to memorize tipping standards when it’s just a dollar here or five dollars there. But what about when the tipping standard is a percentage of ever-varying items? For these cases, this handy  formula has often helped me—I hope it helps you too!

  1. First, check your bill to be sure gratuity (tip) is not already included in the total price.
  2. Next, note the total price of your bill AFTER tax.
  3. Say the total bill price is $20 (just to make the math easy). Tipping standards indicate a 10% tip as the expected minimum for nearly all percentage-based services.
  4. First, calculate 10% of $20.00, which is $2.00.
  5. If you want to tip 15%, add half of that $2.00 to your tip so now your tip is $3.00.
  6. If you want to tip 20%, double the $2.00 so your total tip is now $4.00.
  7. For more complicated bills, the same formula works if you just move the decimal point one place to the left. Here, let's say your bill is $28.35.
  8. So a 10% tip would be $2.84. 15% would be another $1.42, making a 15% tip $4.26. A 20% tip would come out to be $5.68.


NOTEBe aware the following tipping guidelines only apply to service personnel working in the U.S.A.. Read this great KCL post for a guide to save money on tipping while traveling internationally.









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